Over the last year, I’ve thought a lot about the idea of cyclical time, time without beginning or end, as opposed to the view time as linear, which implies a start and an ending.
Time as a never ending series of cycles is a core feature of eastern cosmology, but has also shown up in the west. The Greek deity, Aion, representing “unbounded” time, was associated with the Hellenistic mystery religions.
Time without beginning or end is also feature of more recent western esoteric groups, such as The Golden Dawn, a secret society founded in the 19th century, that sought to restore the knowledge and practice of western mystery traditions. W.B. Yeats was an initiate, and his visionary poem, The Second Coming, (1919) gives a vivid picture of time as a rising and falling series of spirals, or “gyres:”
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The tone of The Second Coming is consistent with all sources, eastern and western, that deal with time cycles. They are unanimous in saying this is the dark time, the Iron Age, the Kali Yuga, and in Buddhist terms, the time of “Five Degenerations.” Continue reading